Q: What role does humor play in courtship?
What does being funny say about me?
Does it matter if my social media profile features humor?
A: Humor matters rather a lot! There’s evidence that humor signifies extraversion to others, so it’s a way for introverts to seem more outgoing.
You can also tell if a woman is into you by whether she laughs at your jokes. There is evidence that this can even be communicated over Facebook.
- In 2015, a study was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology to explore the role of humor in courtship.
- They pointed out that previous research strongly suggests that a good sense of humor is one of the most attractive things about a person. But why?
- What exactly is being communicated by a man who makes a woman laugh?
- There is SOME evidence that humor is related to intelligence, but the link is a bit weak.
- Hypothesis: Could it be that women like funny men because it also means the men are smart?
- The researchers also suggested that if humor is an evolutionary trait that men use to attract women, then we can make some more hypotheses:
- Hypotheses: Women comprehend, appreciate, and use humor more in mate selection than men do.
- The researchers conducted two main studies to test these hypotheses.
- The first study examined online Facebook profiles and their effect on people.
- The second study sought to observe this effect in real life.
The researchers got 100 random Facebook profiles from volunteers at a university, and another group of 72 Facebook users.
The 100 Facebook profiles were downloaded (after permission was granted), including the most recent posts, profile pictures, and the About page, and these were made into single PDF profiles.
Names and identifying information were removed.
Each of the people who volunteered their Facebook profiles were also assessed on several measures, including:
- Self-rated sense of humor
- Intelligence (academic achievement, standardized test scores)
- Then, independent observers looked at the profiles and rated them on their senses of humor. The observers rated:
- Attempts at humor (quotes, funny pictures, jokes)
- Personality traits (same as above)
EXPERIMENT 1 RESULTS
- Was humor production related to intelligence? Either in actual intelligence, or perceived intelligence by observers?
- NO. “Jokers” were not more intelligent nor were they perceived to be more intelligent.
- Was humor production related to other personality traits?
- YES. Namely, “jokers” were significantly more likely to be extraverted and agreeable, and were more likely to be perceived as extraverted.
EXPERIMENT 1 CONCLUSION
- Their hypothesis was NOT supported that humor is a signal of intelligence.
- However, they DID find that humor was related to other desirable traits, i.e. extraversion and agreeableness.
- This would suggest that if you’re an introvert and you want to appear a little more outgoing, humor might be the way to do it.
The researchers then decided to take the experiment to real life (at least, survey real life).
This time, they were testing men and women on whether they appreciate, look for, and find humor attractive in a mate.
- 289 undergraduates from their university were chosen to be in the experiment.
- Each of the participants did a survey on a few factors of humor:
- Whether they choose to joke around in social settings or if they’re more serious
- Whether they laugh at the jokes of other people
- Whether they tend to “get” jokes or if the jokes tend to fly over their heads
- Whether they appreciate or are attracted to people who are humorous
- They were also rated on their academic achievement, qualities that are found attractive (good listening, affection, commitment, etc.)
EXPERIMENT 2 RESULTS
Once again, they found that humor production was related to extraversion but not intelligence.
They DID find that humor production was also related to:
- Comprehension and appreciation of humor
- They also wanted to know whether women appreciate and comprehend humor more than men, and use it to choose a mate.
- They found NO relationship between gender and self-reported humor appreciation or comprehension.
- Finally, the researchers wanted to see if they could see these mechanisms in action.
- 51 pairs of single students were recruited for the study, and were put into a laboratory for a kind of “speed date”
- The dates were recorded for later observation.
- A set of prescreened cards with questions were given to participants in case they got stuck and didn’t know what to talk about.
- The dates lasted 10-12 minutes and then the participants were dismissed.
- Afterward, the participants filled out a survey on how interested they were in their “date.”
- Then, observers watched the interactions and counted how many times one of the daters told a joke, and how many times their dating counterpart laughed at the joke.
EXPERIMENT 3 RESULTS:
- Men and women attempted jokes at roughly the same rate.
- Women laughed at men’s jokes more than men laughed at women’s jokes.
- The more humor attempts made by the man, the more the woman was interested.
- If a woman laughed more, it was significantly correlated with interest in the man.
- AND humor appreciation and comprehension by females was related to their interest in the man.
- In other words, making jokes more often AND getting the woman to laugh were both related to attraction.
- What’s the take away from this study?
- In social media, posting humorous content will make you seem more outgoing and more agreeable.
- In real life, such as dating, attempting jokes MAY help you attract women. It also helps if the jokes are… actually funny.
- In other words, don’t be afraid to crack a joke every now and then. Just keep it appropriate, gentlemen.
Hall, J. A. (2015). Sexual selection and humor in courtship: A case for warmth and extroversion. Evolutionary Psychology, 1-10.